GSP meets Hendricks in Battle over 24 Lineal Titles

Greetings, lineal title fans! As if you needed another reason to tune into the UFC event this weekend, I'm going to break down the lineal title significance of GSP vs Hendricks.

For those of you who may be new to the concept of lineal titles, allow me to explain. Championship belts are bound by the promotion that issues them. What this means is champions can sometimes be stripped of a belt without ever actually losing a fight. The concept of a lineal title was created to trace the path of a championship belt without the imaginary boundaries of promotions. A great example is Ben Askren. He won the original Bellator WW tournament to become the organization's first WW champion and has yet to lose a fight since. However, he has just been granted release from his Bellator contract by Bjorn. Of course, this means that Bellator will strip Askren of the WW title. While the actual Bellator title will no longer belong to Askren, the lineal title will travel with him to the UFC or where ever he ends up. Until he actually loses it in a fight, the Bellator lineal WW title belongs to Askren.

When GSP meets Hendricks in the octagon this Saturday night in Las Vegas, he'll be putting more than just the UFC strap on the line. GSP will be attempting to unify his 18 lineal titles with the 6 lineal titles that Hendricks brings into the cage. The winner walks away with 24 lineal titles and a spot at #3 on the Lineal Title Leaderboard behind Anthony Pettis (28 titles) and Cain Velasquez (26 titles). The result will represent 69% unification of the Welterweight belts that I track (24 of 35), with only 2 major unification opportunities remaining: Ben Askren (Bellator MMA and IFL titles) and Matt Brown (XMMA and Cage Fighting Championship titles).

As always, each of these lineal titles can be traced back to the original Welterweight belt issued by the respective promotions. Also, I do not count fights contested outside of the 170 lb WW limit when tracing these lineages.

Lineal Titles:

1. UFC

Title History: Pat Miletich > Jutaro Nakao > Tetsuji Kato > Hayato Sakurai > Anderson Silva > Yushin Okami > Jake Shields > GSP

Alternate Title History: (Ignoring Weight Class) Pat Miletich > Jutaro Nakao > Tetsuji Kato > Hayato Sakurai > Anderson Silva > Daiju Takase > Rodrigo Gracie > BJ Penn > Lyoto Machida > Mauricio Rua > Jon Jones

2. Dream

Title History: Marius Zaromskis > Nick Diaz > Carlos Condit > GSP

3. Deep

Title History: Hasegawa > Dong Hyun Kim > Carlos Condit > GSP

4. Shooto

Title History: Hayato Sakurai > Anderson Silva > Yushin Okami > Jake Shields > GSP

5. King of the Cage

Title History: Joe Stevenson > Brad Gumm > Joe Stevenson > Romie Aram > Dave Strasser > Karo Parisyan > GSP > Matt Hughes > GSP > Matt Sera > GSP

6. Gladiator Challenge

Title History: Joe Stevenson > Romie Aram > Dave Strasser > Karo Parisyan > GSP > Matt Hughes > GSP > Matt Sera > GSP

7. Cage Warrior

Title History: Adrian Deorski > Abdul Mohamed > Mohomed Khacha > Keita Nakamura > Brock Larson > Carlos Condit > Martin Kampmann > Paul Daley > Josh Koscheck > GSP

8. Sport Fight

Title History: Chris Wilson > Nick Thompson > Jake Shields > GSP

9. Strikeforce

Title History: Nick Diaz > Carlos Condit > GSP

10. WEC

Title History: Nick Diaz > Karo Parisyan > Diego Sanchez > Josh Koscheck > GSP

11. EliteXC

Title History: Jake Shields > GSP

12. Cage Rage

Title History: Chris Lytle > Matt Serra > GSP

13. TKO

Title History: John Alessio > Jason Black > Shonie Carter > Marcus Davis > Dan Hardy > GSP

14. Icon Sport

Title History: Mayhem Miller > GSP > Matt Sera > GSP

15. Bodog

Title History: Eddie Alvarez > Nick Thompson > Jake Shields > GSP

16. Rumble on the Rock

Title History: Jake Shields > GSP

17. WFA

Title History: Frank Trigg > Matt Hughes > BJ Penn > GSP > Matt Serra > GSP

18. Ironheart Crown

Title History: Steve Berger > Jason Black > Shonie Carter > Marcus Davis > Dan Hardy > GSP

19. Pancrase

Title History: Daizo Ishige > Dan Hardy > Yoshiyuki Yoshida > Josh Koscheck > Paulo Thiago > Jon Fitch > Johny Hendricks

20. MFC

Title History: Pat Healy > TJ Waldburger > Johny Hendricks

21. Ring of Combat

Title History: John Howard > Jake Ellenburger > Martin Kampmann > Johny Hendricks

22. Tachi Palace

Title History: David Mitchell > TJ Waldburger > Johny Hendricks

23. Spirit MC

Title History: Jae Suk Lim > Steve Bruno > Chris Wilson > John Howard > Jake Ellenburger > Martin Kampmann > Johny Hendrix

24. Shark Fights

Title History: TJ Waldburger > Johny Hendricks

Important Notes

  • The UFC belt was originally known as the Lightweight title when Miletich first won it. He would go on to lose the title outside of the promotion. A loss by Anderson Silva at 183 lbs is ignored as part of this lineage. I also had to include the Yushin Okami DQ win at 175 lbs, which was ROTR's Welterweight limit, in order to arrive at GSP, For fun, I've incuded the lineage if weight classes are ignored. Interestingly, Jon Jones also holds the UFC lightweight title and the WEC Heavyweight title, if you ignore weight classes. UFC Lightweight Title History (Ignoring Weight Class): Jens Pulver > Duane Ludwig > BJ Penn > Lyoto Machida > "Shogun" Rua > Jon Jones WEC Heavyweight Title History (Ignoring Weight Class): James Irvin > Mike Kyle > Devin Cole > Allan Goes > Alex Schoenauer > Mike Siesnolevicz > Andre Gusmao > Jon Jones > Matt Hamill > "Rampage" Jackson > Jon Jones
  • The Deep belt is the 2nd iteration. The first dead ends at lightweight. What's really cool is that, if you follow the lineage without regard to weight class, you still end up at GSP. In order for it to work, you have to allow Nick Diaz's victory over Gomi that was deemed a NC once Diaz popped for Marijuana.
  • The Shooto belt is the 3rd iteration. The first two belts go back to the very early days of MMA and were not reliably contested at 170 lbs.
  • The KOTC belt begins with Joe Stevenson, which represents the second iteration of the belt. Erik Meaders was technically the first champion, but he won the belt in his very first professional fight and then lost a series of fights that were outside of the 170 lb division. Even if you trace Meader's lineage, the belt ends up at a dead end outside of the WW division.
  • The Pancrase title is the 2nd iteration, the 1st dead ends outside of the WW division.
  • The Ring of Combat title is the 2nd iteration, the 1st was never contested again in the WW division.
  • The Spirit MC title is referred to as a Middleweight belt by the promotion, but the bouts are contest at 80kg, which is closer to 170 lbs.

Previous Lineal Title Post


Middleweight (Belfort)

Big Picture (Graphic)


Middleweight (Weidman)


Light Heavyweight

Lineal Title Leaderboard

As you will see below, there are no bigger unification opportunities than what we have coming up on Saturday. As I referenced above, there are two other Welterweight title holders on the Leaderboard, which could be of interest for future fights. Matt Brown defends his two lineal titles against Carlos Condit, while Ben Askren awaits his possible move to the UFC. The other Welterweights with one lineal title in the division include: Steve Carl (WSOF), Rashid Magomedov (M-1 Global), Dong Hyun Kim (Legacy FC), Patrick Cote (Cage Fury), John Hathaway (UCMMA), Eddy Ellis (BAMMA), Akihiro Murayama (Sengoku - WVR).

After Saturday, the next big unification opportunity will occur in February, when Jose Aldo puts his 9 lineal titles on the line against Ricardo Lamas' 3. The winner walks away with a unification percentage of 46 in the FW division. Notably, Daniel Straus recently snagged 4 lineal titles from Pat Curan (Bellator MMA, XFC, PFC, and Shark Fights), representing the largest potential unification opportunity in the division. Of course, Bellator remains the biggest obstacle in terms of making that fight a reality.

# Name # of Titles Unify
1 Anthony Pettis 28 80%
2 Cain Velasquez 26 76%
3 Chris Weidman 19 56%
4 Jon Jones 18 55%
4 GSP 18 51%
5 Jose Aldo 9 35%
6 Johny Hendricks 6 19%
7 Mighty Mouse 5 50%
7 Dominick Cruz 5 22%
7 Bibiano Fernandes 5 22%
7 Vitor Belfort 5 15%
7 Francis Carmont 5 15%
8 Marlon Moraes 4
8 Akira Corassani 4
8 Gegard Mousasi 4
8 Daniel Straus 4
9 Ricardo Lamas 3
10 Eight fighters tied with 2 titles 2
Upcoming Unification Bouts # Date
GSP vs. Hendricks 24 titles 16-Nov
Aldo vs Lamas 12 titles 1-Feb
Cruz vs Barao 6 titles 1-Feb
Vegh vs. Newton 3 titles TBD
Other Titles on the Line # Date
Tim Elliott vs. Ali Bagautinov 1 title 16-Nov
Volkov vs Minakov 2 titles 22-Nov
Corassani vs Maximo Blanco 4 titles 30-Nov
Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit 2 titles 14-Dec
Mendes vs Lentz 1 title 14-Dec
Mighty Mouse vs Benevidez 5 titles 14-Dec
Mousasi vs Machida 1 title 8-Feb
Jones vs Texiera 17 titles 22-Feb
Manuwa vs Gustafson 1 title 8-Mar
Velasquez vs Werdum 26 titles TBD
Pettis vs Thomson 28 titles TBD
Karakhanyan vs TBD 3 titles


\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.